It wouldn’t be a complete summer at the cinema without a Marvel blockbuster being fit in somewhere. The MCU continues with “Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings” dropping (pre-Labor Day) on September 3rd. So, for me it counts as a summer popcorn flick. There’s been much talk centered around this movie. Among the many ‘hot’ topics, was the (not so hot) topic of a new, more obscure, hero being able to carry an MCU film to the box-office heights expected from Marvel and Disney bigwigs.
Personally, I think those days are long past. Iron Man, Black Widow, the entire group of Guardians, and more were all lesser-known names in the hero hierarchy. The MCU at this point is in the business of making names of these heroes on their own, and such is the case with Shang-Chi. A bold, vibrant character with deadly martial-arts skills that will soon be known to mass audiences.
It certainly helps to have a strong introduction into the universe and with The Legend of the Ten Rings, Shang-Chi certainly has that in his favor. Because this movie turned out to be much better than advertised to result in one of the better MCU films overall, or at least on the upper half of them in terms of quality across the board.
I genuinely had a blast with this movie and for a few reasons. First was the progression of the story-line and how it maneuvered outside of the traditional formula that has, at times, interfered with films throughout the last couple Phases. It was formulaic to a certain extent in terms of hero arcs, character dynamics, and the placement of action-sequences. But it wasn’t a predictable film. There’s an emotional undercurrent to this movie that fuels the characters in a highly intriguing way both from the aspect of the hero and the villain. Something that can connect you to the characters and the uncertainty they may have in their decision making. Which was honestly compelling.
The movie takes viewers to another world within the universe of movies, and it was all stitched together nicely. It builds the lore of the characters and the powers they possess. It results in a visually appealing ride as Shang-Chi navigates through the plotline and grows into a hero. Simu Liu also brought the character a worthy performance. I easily connected to this guy. There’s a human quality to him that not many of the other heroes have outside maybe Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang/Ant-Man. However, he kills it in the action department by showcasing a range of martial-arts skills to fill out this hero in awesome ways.
Which leads to the action. I loved it! I’m a bit nitpicky with martial-arts choreography and more so, how it’s filmed. But this movie delivered the goods. The camerawork was fluid and it resulted in many fast-paced, tight-crafted, fight-sequences that can have you on edge, completely immersed. These set-pieces blended practical stunt-work and digital-effects nicely. It was a bit grounded, and a bit fantasy as well. And for this character, in this world of superheroes, I thought this aspect of the movie was excellently done overall. With “Shang-Chi” being the MCU’s first true martial-arts epic.
There’s just a lot of heart to this movie but it doesn’t get melodramatic. The comedic breaks are also nicely timed to lighten the mood when needed. The cast overall delivered great performances. Tony Leung was fantastic. Michelle Yeoh was as graceful as ever, and Awkwafina held her own as well. She was solid comedic relief, and she brought a sincere chemistry with Liu. So, in the end “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” was a pleasant surprise and a fantastic introduction to a new hero in the MCU that I can’t wait to see more of.
Anthony J Digioia II – SilverScreen Analysis © All Rights Reserved